Administration

  • Rebecca Wallace-Segall

    Executive Director
    Founder
    Rebecca Wallace-Segall

    Rebecca founded Writopia Lab in April 2007, currently directs the national organization, teaches writing workshops and college essay writing and runs in-school staff and teacher trainings in New York City through the DYCD, the DOE, and at community-based organizations that serve at risk youth. She has grown the organization in NYC, and established and oversees Writopia in the DC Metro region, NY Metro North, Chicago, Los Angeles, and New Jersey. She trains Writopia instructors across the nation, as well as classroom teachers and volunteers in the Writopia method.

    Rebecca has won multiple teaching awards including the Scholastic Awards' 2012 Ovation Inspired Teacher Award for submitting the most outstanding senior portfolios on the national level and for "developing a method of working with students that inspires them to create original work that embodies their unique, personal voice.... Because of [her] tutelage... these students are now empowered to bring that voice into the broader world..." She has also won the 2008, 2009, and 2011 National Gold Apple Teacher Award for "submitting the most outstanding group of submissions on the national level" to the Scholastic Art & Writing event. She lectures at schools, events, and parents' organizations on a variety of topics including "How to Inspire the Writer Within Your Child," "Writing for High School and College Admittance," and on "Identifying and Participating in Positive Competitions." Previously, Rebecca established the creative writing program at the Abraham Joshua Heschel Middle School on the Upper West Side of Manhattan as a consultant. While she was there, the program outperformed every other school in the city (including every elite public and private institution) in Scholastic's prestigious Art & Writing Awards competition. She has been awarded recognition from The Scholastic Art & Writing Awards as an "outstanding educator" every year since 2006. (Writopia won Scholastic's official endorsement in 2007.) Rebecca was also nominated by students and selected to be entered into the 11th Edition of Who's Who Among American Teachers.

    Rebecca has taught at SUNY Albany, New York University, and at Gotham Writer's Workshop. In 2009, Rebecca was invited to join The Op-Ed Project Mentor Editor Program and has since helped several brilliant women break into some of the nation's most widely read national opinion pages. In 2002, she had the pleasure of working with young writers in New York City public schools for the first time as a resident writer with the Teachers & Writers Collaborative. By 2003, she was working at the Heschel School, planting the seeds for a unique and successful creative writing program there. She also participated in the judging of the Scholastic competition in 2006 and currently serves as a judge of several national youth writing competitions (in which her students are not involved).

    Rebecca also serves on Writopia Lab’s Board of Directors and is thrilled to have a team of accomplished board members from various social and business sectors, help shape the future of Writopia's youth literary community.

    Writings

    Rebecca began writing for publications in 1997. She has contributed opeds about education and writing to the The Atlantic Monthly and The Wall Street Journal, and thought pieces to The Huffington Post and The Nation, along with five cover stories (and other pieces) to the Village Voice. She has contributed the foreword to Bryant Park's Poem in Your Day Chapbook 2012 and to The Scholastic Award's 2012 Best Teen Writing. She also served as Senior Editor at Psychology Today Magazine, and won Salon's "Best People Story of the Year Award" for "Love Labor's Flossed." In 1999, she became a Journalism Fellow at Brandeis University. In 2003, she entered the world of comedy writing, and began writing and performing sketch comedy around NYC. She won a "Best Sketch" competition at the Upright Citizens Brigade in 2006.

  • Yael Schick

    Director of Programs
    Co-New York City Regional Director
    Yael Schick

    Yael is thrilled to be part of the Writopia team! She received her BA in English from Stern College of Yeshiva University, and joined Writopia Lab in 2011. She has taught and tutored writing in several New York City colleges and private schools, and has worked as a director, most recently directing at 59e59 Theaters and at Roy Arias Theater. At Writopia she works as an instructor and program developer. Her Writopia students have received Scholastic recognition on both on the regional and national levels, and she has served as a national judge for the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards. In 2012, she was recognized by the Scholastic Awards "as an outstanding educator whose dedication, commitment, and guidance are represented by student work selected for national honors."

  • Danielle Sheeler

    Director of Camps and Curriculum
    Co-New York City Regional Director
    DanielleSheeler

    Danielle has been part of the Writopia Lab team since 2011. She currently co-directs Writopia Lab's full-day camp. In addition, she develops and implements curriculum in workshops at Writopia Lab, in schools, and in Residential Treatment Facilities.

    She received her Masters in Humanities and Social Thought at NYU in January 2010 and her Masters in Social Work from Columbia University in Spring 2019. She has been recognized by the Scholastic Awards "as an outstanding educator whose dedication, commitment, and guidance are represented by student work selected for national honors."

  • Tom Flynn

    Deputy Director
    Business Operations
    Tom Flynn

    Tom has worked in higher education, business consulting, and creative management. He is also a seasoned professional writer. Tom studied Philosophy and Peace Studies at Siena College and earned an M.S. in Communication and Rhetoric at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. At Rensselaer, he became Creative Director of a research group that created interactive multimedia learning software. He also worked on a variety of K-12 multimedia initiatives and taught a graduate level seminar for teachers on technology in the classroom. As a management consultant, Tom worked with a wide range of innovative technology companies and large corporate clients. In a past life, Tom studied with Marilyn Robinson and Amy Hempel at New York State Writers Institute Graduate Creative Writing Workshop at Skidmore College. He has written and edited for Pavement Saw, Guitar School Magazine, Hudson Valley Writers Guild, and Scyre. While living outside Boston, he wrote about the arts and nightlife for the Boston Phoenix publication Stuff @ Night. Also, during a more than 15-year association, Tom published countless feature length articles, interview pieces and reviews on music, culture and the arts for the alternative newsweekly Metroland in New York's Capital region.

  • Janelle M. Williams

    Senior Program Manager
    Janelle M. Williams

    Janelle M. Williams has been a part of the Writopia Lab team since 2016. At Writopia, she works as an instructor and a program manager. She manages private sessions and co-manages the Write-to-Recognition Program and the Joy and Literacy in After School Program. With the support of Executive Director Rebecca Wallace-Segall and the team, she founded Writopia Lab's annual Teen Writers' Summit. She enjoys teaching on-site and off-site workshops, some in Title 1 schools and a residential treatment facility. She is enthusiastic about sustaining safe, diverse, and socially conscious workshops at Writopia Lab. Janelle received her BA from Howard University and her MFA in Creative Writing from Manhattanville College. In 2017, she received a fellowship from Kimbilio Fiction. As a southern writer from Decatur, Georgia, Janelle's lyrical stories have appeared or are forthcoming in Prairie Schooner, SmokeLong Quarterly, Lunch Ticket, Vol. 1 Brooklyn, Split Lip Magazine, midnight & indigo, Kweli, and elsewhere.

  • Elsa Bermúdez

    Program Manager and Senior Instructor
    Elsa Bermúdez

    Elsa Bermúdez has loved teaching creative writing, essay writing, sketch comedy, and graphic noveling at Writopia Lab since 2014. As Program Manager, she also runs Writopia Lab’s on-site scholarship program, Write to Recognition, and several off-site partnership programs. Elsa is a writer, comedian, artist, and educator. She earned her BA in Philosophy from Providence College and her MFA in Creative Writing in Fiction from The New School. Her short story, Agency, was published in H.O.W. Journal's Issue 11. She also studied improv and sketch comedy writing at UCB. Elsa has produced and performed on comedy stages around New York City, including the Magnet Theater, the Pit, and Upright Citizens Brigade Theater. She has also directed for Magnet Theater’s sketch program, Remix. Currently, Elsa writes for Magnet Theater’s house sketch team, House Party, and writes, directs, performs, and produces a sketch comedy show, I Feel Funny. Elsa lives in Astoria, Queens with her dog and two cats.

  • Madeline Taylor

    Program Administration Manager
    Instructor
    Madeline Taylor

    Madeline Taylor joined Writopia as an intern in June 2015 and, after a year of working part-time, began full-time as Registration Coordinator. She also served as the Production Stage Manager for the Writopia Worldwide Plays Festival 2016. She graduated summa cum laude from Barnard College at Columbia University with a BA in English & Creative Writing. At Barnard, she stage managed, edited, and contributed to student-written theater productions, and her main areas of instruction at Writopia are the Playwriting & Performance program and the Essay Writing program. She writes primarily creative non-fiction and short fiction, and received recognition for her non-fiction writing at Barnard College with the Schwimmer Prize for the Humanities and the Estelle M. Allison Prize for Literature.

  • Ethan Shafran Moltz

    Media Manager
    Instructor
    Ethan Shafran Moltz

    Ethan joined the Writopia community as an intern in 2013. He is now a full-time instructor, filmmaking instructor, and the program coordinator. His Writopia students have been showcased as part of the Tribeca Films Festival in 2015 and 2016. Prior to Writopia, Ethan worked as a freelance video editor and photographer. Ethan graduated from Sarah Lawrence College in May 2015 concentrating in religious philosophy, fiction, and non-fiction. During his time there, he produced and directed over a dozen plays. You can sometimes find Ethan leading Writopia’s unique Literary Yoga for Language Play workshops!

  • Matthew Jellison

    Games and Curriculum Manager
    Editor-in-Chief of Litmags
    Matthew Jellison

    Matthew Jellison is over the moon to be joining the Writopia Lab staff full time as the Games and Curriculum Manager and the Editor-in-Chief of Litmags. He began as a creative writing instructor in summer of 2017 and since has had the privilege of reading wonderful writing by extraordinary kids. Born and raised in NYC, Matthew writes plays and works with kids. The first two plays in his cycle, the giants, was produced by Loft 227 in winter of 2016. He’s getting the third play ready for a workshop this coming Fall at TOWN stages, where he’s currently in residence. Matthew is the 2012/13 Kenan Playwriting Fellow at the Kennedy Center, a two-time Playwriting Fellow at the O’Neill National Playwrights Conference, an alumnus of FreshGround Pepper Playground Playgroup and SPACE on Ryder Farm, and a finalist for the Soho Rep Writer/Director Lab. Prior to Writopia, Matthew worked with kids and teens with the 52nd Street Project, Marquis Studios, the Kaufman Cultural Center, and Manhattan Theatre Club’s education department. He graduated from the acting school at the North Carolina School of the Arts.

  • Kyle Henry

    Office Manager
    Kyle Henry

    Kyle joined Writopia Lab as the Office Manager in 2017, bringing a wealth of experience in office management and in plumbing mechanics. His passion is creativity – he loves sketching, music, writing haikus and has done everything from t-shirt screen printing to tattoo art. Kyle hails from Sangre Grande, Trinidad W.I and came to Brooklyn at age thirteen (the original Bushwick). His greatest accomplishment is his ten-year-old nugget – his daughter Kelyse. He loves New York City, and he has a deep dedication to NYC sports teams (#nyjets #nyk #nym). Fun facts – he loves classic cars, butter crunch cookies (in the yellow packaging), and he has not cut his hair since 1999.

  • Sarah Shatan-Pardo

    Registration Associate
    Instructor
    Sarah SP

    Sarah joined Writopia full time the summer of 2017 after spending the summers of 2015 and 2016 assistant teaching at our workshops and camps as an intern. She graduated from Haverford College with a BA in English in May, 2017. At Haverford, Sarah had a concentration in Creative Writing and spent her senior year writing a creative thesis. When she graduated, she was awarded the Terry M. Krieger ‘69 Memorial Prize for her achievements in writing. Sarah attended Writopia workshops as a high school student, so Writopia has been a part of her life for a long time. At Writopia, Sarah is a part of the registration team and an assistant instructor. She is also an enthusiastic member of the team who brings fantasy and adventure to young writers through Worldbuilding, where the young writers create their own interactive worlds and stories. YA fantasy is Sarah’s genre of choice for both reading and writing, but nothing inspires her like the stories written by Writopia’s young writers.

  • Rachel Crocker

    Operations Specialist
    Rachel Crocker

    Rachel is part of the operations, registration, private sessions, and web teams at Writopia Lab! Rachel graduated from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville in May 2017 with a BA in French/Francophone Studies and International Business as well as a minor in Political Science. At UT Knoxville, Rachel’s favorite classes were the ones that featured different cultures and traditions. Building on her French language skills and her love of foreign cultures, she taught English to elementary students in France during the 2017-18 school year. Rachel loves curling up with a good book, listening to podcasts, and watching cute dog videos (because dogs are the best).

  • Malcolm Knowles

    Program Coordinator
    Instructor

    Malcolm Knowles is ecstatic to be a part of the Writopia team. He is a writer and multi-instrumentalist originally from Houston, Texas, where he learned to record and release music during his teenage years. He later attended Sarah Lawrence College with a focus in jazz guitar, composition, and radio. During the summer, he leads the songwriting elective at both the Writopia day camp and WriCampia and is currently developing the Songwriting Studio Program for the Fall, Winter, and Spring trimesters. When not teaching, you can often find him next to the closest musical instrument.

  • Jocelyn Gottschalk

    Senior HR Associate
    Jocelyn Gottschalk

    Jocelyn recently joined Writopia Lab as Senior HR Associate. She is delighted to enthusiastically support its mission. Jocelyn has a BA in theater, an MA in Museum Studies--Costumes and Textiles, and a certification from SHRM, the Society for Human Resource Management. She has many years of experience in HR management and operations in the creative industries of publishing, music, and higher education. Prodigiously curious, she loves to learn by reading, discussing, sharing, and doing. Jocelyn is endlessly inspired by the human creative spirit and is excited to work with the amazing people at Writopia Lab who engage with that spirit every day.

  • Léna Roy

    Associate Creative Director of Programs
    New York Metro North Regional Manager
    Lena Roy

    Léna began teaching Writopia Lab workshops in Manhattan in 2009, then went on to bring the program to New York City's northern suburbs in 2010. Léna is the author of the YA novel, Edges, published by FSG. She co-authored Becoming Madeleine, a Biography of the Author of A Wrinkle in Time by Her Granddaughters, coming out in February 2018. She co-edited the award-winning Girls Write Now anthology, First Lines. Her writing was featured in the essay collection for middle school kids and their teachers: Breakfast on Mars and 37 Other Essays to Devour: Your Favorite Authors Take on the Dreaded Essay Assignment. From 2014 to present, Léna has been recognized by the Scholastic Awards "as an outstanding educator whose dedication, commitment, and guidance are represented by student work selected for national honors." Léna earned her BA from Barnard, studying English and Italian literature, and her MA in Drama Therapy from NYU. Mentoring has long been the connective tissue in Léna's life, whether through her work with at-risk adolescents in Utah, California, and New York; or through her own writing discipline, as fostered by her late grandmother, author Madeleine L'Engle. It was her grandmother who taught Léna to transform the solitary nature of writing into a sacred sense of community, where her art and the art of others can flourish. You can visit Léna at www.lenaroybooks.com.

  • Rob Roy

    Operations Manager
    Rob Roy

    Rob is Writopia Lab's administrator for the New York Metro North labs. Having worked more than a decade in New York film production, Rob says he's perfectly qualified to run errands, file paperwork, and tinker on computers. And because Rob shares Writopia's vision of building an environment in which to foster the creativity of teens and kids, he now runs, files, and tinkers with more joy than he did before.

  • Michaela Florio

    Bay Area Regional Manager
    Instructor

    Michaela is ecstatic to be the Regional Manager of the Bay Area! Before this beautiful transition, she was Program Coordinator and Head Instructor at our location in Hartsdale, NY. Michaela received her BA in English & Literature from the University of Alaska Anchorage and her MFA in Creative Nonfiction Writing from Sarah Lawrence College, where she worked with Pulitzer Prize winning poet Vijay Seshadri. Her publishing credits include Madcap Review and Under the Gum Tree to name a few. Before working at Writopia, Michaela taught English and creative writing at the college level, led creative aging workshops for Alzheimer's and dementia patients, and played Division I college soccer while coaching players ranging from age three through college. Whether on the field or in academia, she enjoys mentoring and helping people to achieve their full potential. Her hobbies include hiking, camping, fishing, and backpacking. On the weekends, you can find her playing soccer in various leagues and enjoying all the pizza.

  • Kimberly Faith Waid

    Los Angeles Regional Manager

    Kimberly Faith Waid

    Kimberly Faith Waid is Writopia Lab's Los Angeles regional manager, where she is an educator, registrar, marketing lead, and director of regional partnerships. She also is a part of the national communications team with a focus in social media. For over thirteen years, she has taught creative writing, Language Arts/English, and arts enrichment to all age-levels and is passionate to continue growing confidence and literacy skills in young writers. Her Writopia students have received Scholastic recognition on regional and national levels. A community builder, Kimberly worked for five years with the founder of The Moth, George Dawes Green, on The Unchained Tour, a storytelling series which brought storytellers and musicians to small towns across the American South to support local literary communities and their independent bookstores. At Writopia, in addition to creative writing, she teaches screenwriting, drawing on her experience as a script coverage consultant for high-level filmmakers and on the set of Breaking Bad. She holds a BFA in Media and Performing Arts from Savannah College of Art & Design and an MFA from New York University, where she was selected as a Goldwater Fellow. She’s been shortlisted for the 2019 Tennessee Williams Fiction Contest and the 2012 William Faulkner Wisdom Competition. Her written work has appeared in Abe’s Penny and ArtSlant. She's twice been a resident in fiction writing at Vermont Studio Center where she began work on a historical novel set primarily in her home state of Alabama.

  • Jacquelyn Stolos

    Program Coordinator

    Jacquelyn Stolos can barely contain her excitement about joining the Writopia team in Los Angeles this spring! Jacquelyn began her writing career as an elementary schooler filling up spiral-bound notebooks while perched on a mossy rock in the woods behind her childhood home. Her habits have barely changed since. She studied English and French literature at Georgetown University, where she completed an honors thesis of short stories and won the Annabelle Bonner Medal for short fiction. For her masters, Jacquelyn was awarded the Writers in the Public Schools fellowship to study fiction in New York University’s MFA program. She has also workshopped at the Squaw Valley Community of Writers, the Tin House Summer Writers Workshop, and the New York Summer Writers Institute. Her short fiction has appeared in The Atticus Review, Conte Online, and The Oddville Press. Jacquelyn is an ardent believer in the power of story and is always looking for ways to spread the love through education. She previously worked as a teaching artist at Teachers and Writers Collaborative, leading creative writing workshops in elementary and middle school classrooms, as well as an adjunct professor at New York University. Jacquelyn's first novel, Edendale, will be released by Creature Publishing, a feminist horror press, in the spring of 2020.

  • Alison Fortune

    Assistant Office Manager
    Alison Fortune

    Alison is so excited to join the Writopia Lab team! After initially starting at Writopia as the Office Management Intern, she is thrilled to come on board as the Assistant Office Manager. Alison is a Washington, DC native who currently lives in Brooklyn. In May 2018 she graduated from Reed College, located in Portland, Oregon, with a B.A. in Theater and Literature. Upon moving to New York City, she dove into the theater world, working as a PA for 59E59th Theaters and stage managing for Cave Theater, Access Theater, Art House Theater, and the Paradise Factory. However, she couldn't be happier to start applying her organizational skills to Writopia's mission. In her free time she likes to read Roosevelt biographies, explore the city with her friends, and work on her miniature building.

  • Michael Alessi

    Chicago Regional Manager
    Instructor
    Michael Alessi

    Michael Alessi is Writopia’s Chicago Regional Manager. Over the past six years he has served literary communities around the country as a college-level writing instructor, high school workshop leader, and managing editor of several university-housed and independent literary journals. He is thrilled to share his experience with young writers of all ages.

    Michael’s poetry and prose has earned awards and recognition from the Academy of American Poets, the University of Memphis, Louisiana State University, and the AWP Intro Journals Project. He holds dual BAs in English and Economics from the University of Michigan and an MFA in Fiction from Old Dominion University, where he was selected as a David Scott Sutelan Fellow. His stories have appeared or are forthcoming in such literary journals as Mid-American Review, Passages North, The Pinch, the minnesota review, Paper Darts, and New Delta Review, among others. He is currently at work on his first novel, set in the rural hollows of his home state of Virginia.

  • Laura Owsiany

    Program Manager
    Instructor

    Laura Owsiany is excited to be a part of Writopia Lab! She first worked with Writopia as an intern in 2015, then joined full-time as Registration Coordinator in 2018. She holds a BA in English from Georgetown University. After graduating, Laura worked as a full-time tutor in McLean, VA, where she mentored students in college essay writing and taught everything from English to Calculus. She previously served as a publishing intern at the nonprofit 826DC. In addition to writing, Laura enjoys reading modernist poetry, podcasting, the outdoors, and frequenting DC’s many free museums.

  • Lucian Mattison

    Program Manager
    Instructor
    Lucian Mattison

    Lucian Mattison is very excited to be a part of the DC Writopia team! He is the author of two books of poetry, Reaper's Milonga (YesYes Books, 2018) and Peregrine Nation (Dynamo Verlag, 2017). His poetry, short fiction, and translations appear in numerous journals including Hayden's Ferry Review, Hobart, Nano Fiction, The Nashville Review, Puerto Del Sol, and Sixth Finch. Over the past six years, he has also taught creative writing writing workshops for adults, undergraduates, and teens in DC and Norfolk, Virginia. He's thrilled to join Writopia in cultivating a community of young poets and writers who will grow to be the voices we see in magazines and on bookshelves in the future!

  • Rita Feinstein

    Program Coordinator & Registration Coordinator
    Rita Feinstein

    Rita is excited to join the Writopia Lab family! She received her MFA from Oregon State University, where she taught composition and creative writing. Her work has appeared in The Cossack Review, Permafrost, and Grist, among other publications, and has been nominated for Best of the Net and Best New Poets. Life on Dodge, her debut poetry chapbook, is available from Brain Mill Press. She lives with her husband, who is a lawyer, and her dog, who is not.

  • Samantha Stone

    Registration Support
    Instructor

    Samantha Stone began with Writopia Lab as a JLA volunteer in 2016 and has taught creative writing and essay workshops since the summer of 2017. In the Fall of 2019 she joined the administrative team part-time, helping with registration, and is delighted to work more closely with the team. Samantha is a New York City based playwright and theatre artist, who focuses on creating theatre for social change in both national and international platforms. She received finalist status for the Leah Ryan Fund For Emerging Women Writers in 2019 and for the Ivoryton Playhouse’s POWER PASSION PROSE Women Playwrights’ Initiative for 2018. Her work has been produced at the Walkerspace at Soho Rep, Primary Stages, and as part of the 20th annual New York International Fringe Festival. In 2013, she earned a B.A. in Journalism and Mass Communications from the George Washington University. She has an MFA from the Fordham/Primary Stages Playwriting program, which she earned in 2018, and currently teaches as an adjunct professor in Fordham’s English department.

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